GORHAM, Maine – No. 2 seed UMass Boston had an answer for every No. 3 seed University of Massachusetts Dartmouth offensive, sealing the final say with four-straight two-run innings to edge the Corsairs 8-6 in Saturday's Little East Conference Baseball Tournament title game at Ed Flaherty Field.
Score: UMass Boston 6, UMass Dartmouth
Records: UMass Boston (33-10) | UMass Dartmouth (25-20)
How it Happened
Junior Josh O'Neill (Halifax, Mass.) dropped a pair of hits for the Corsairs, and classmate Brandon Polignone (Peabody, Mass.) drove in a game-high three runs on his single hit. On the mound, junior Zack Reid (Dighton, Mass.) kept the Beacons at bay in the final three innings, permitting just one hit.
Beginning with his entrance in the third, Beacon reliever Bryan Kaufman (Farmingdale, N.Y.) was the difference-maker, with his only run unearned while striking out 12 and allowing only four hits. Three Beacons, including Dan Mantoni (Northbridge, Mass.), Kyle Boudrias (Medford, Mass.) and Luke Nagle (Pembroke, Mass.) recorded multiple RBIs.
O'Neill's RBI double down the left field line put UMass Dartmouth in front briefly in the second, but the Beacons responded in the home half of the frame with two runs. With runners on first and second, Chris Fowler (Barnstable, Mass.) drove a double off the left field wall for an RBI before Josh Lopez (New Haven, Conn.) connected for a sacrifice fly.
The offensive parade only continued from there with both teams combining for 11 runs over the next three innings. In the third, the Corsairs drew even at two on an Ezequiel Sanchez (Mantai, Puerto Rico) sacrifice fly, and immediately opened up a 5-2 lead when Polignone launched a bases-loaded double to the left-side fence.
Again, the lead was short-lived. The Beacons cut within a run on a two-run double from Nagle in the third, and tacked on two more in the fourth to gain a 6-5 advantage.
A Beacon miscue in the top of the fifth allowed O'Neill to score all the way from first, drawing the margin even again, but UMass Boston gathered yet another two-run at-bat to take control for the final time. Kaufman settled in to permit just two hits in the sixth and none after that.
Inside the Numbers
- The Corsairs sit with 25 wins for the second time in three seasons after advancing the LEC Tournament finale for the first time since 2013.
- The Beacons now maintain a 3-2 edge in the season series with UMass Dartmouth as the squads met three times during the course of the tournament.
- O'Neill closes his tournament with a team-high .333 average (6-for-18), with Kenny Michael (Norwood, Mass.) driving in a team-high seven RBIs over the five games. Senior Sean Callahan (Colchester, Vt.) tossed a team-high 15.1 innings with a 2.93 ERA and nine K's.
UMass Dartmouth will await the possibility of a Pool C (at-large) selection to the 2017 NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament when the 56-team field is announced on Sunday.